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Dr. Saturday

Is Texas’ media might pushing A&M and Oklahoma to the SEC?

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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SEC commissioner Mike Slive made an offhand comment during SEC media days Wednesday when asked about building a superconference: "I could get to 16 (teams) in 15 minutes."

Apparently, that's not an exaggeration.

A few minutes after Slive's comment came across Twitter, Matt Hayes of the Sporting News reported that Texas A&M and Oklahoma are inquiring about making a move to the SEC.

A source told Sporting News Wednesday that both Texas A&M and Oklahoma are so concerned about rival Texas gaining a recruiting advantage with the newly-formed Longhorn Network, the two institutions could turn to the SEC if the problems can't be figured out. The core issue: The Longhorn Network will televise live high school football games in the state of Texas, an obvious recruiting advantage for Texas.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday that he will "continue to do what is in the best interest of the SEC."

"It is my job to make sure the SEC is the premiere league," Slive said. "For me to exclude any action that would preclude that from happening would be inappropriate."

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The Longhorn Network took center stage this week as A&M questioned whether the network showing Texas high school games violates NCAA rules. According to Title 13, Section 10 of the NCAA rulebook, colleges are prohibited from arranging radio or TV appearances for prospective student-athletes and prohibits schools from allowing prospects on shows conducted by coaches or shows in which coaches are participating.

Even if the NCAA doesn't find any wrongdoing with the network, both A&M and OU aren't happy and fear that Texas' monopoly over the airwaves could ultimately become a monopoly over the conference and create an unfair advantage all around.

Back in January, Oklahoma kicked around the idea of starting its own network and is still in the process of finding a backer that is willing to give the same (or similar) 20-year, $300-million deal that ESPN gave Texas. That kind of safety net is the lynchpin in OU's model, but not many entities are willing to fork over the cash.

"We know that we'll have potentially a different model than the one that people keep hearing about in regards to the University of Texas," Castiglione told the Tulsa World. "We have to build one that's sustainable for the University of Oklahoma. This isn't like you can go out and just buy a network. This is a commodity. This is a very big undertaking ...
"And so we understand what we are trying to develop here. We've been looking at this for several years."

If A&M and Oklahoma join the SEC, the individual networks are probably off the table, but they'll be a part of a conference that has deals with CBS and ESPN already in place. Slive said there are clauses in both contracts that allow the SEC to renegotiate should membership change. The markets both Oklahoma and A&M bring would greatly add to the exposure of the conference and warrant a much bigger television deal. Moreover, with greater reach, the SEC could easily start thinking about its own network similar to the Big Ten and Pac-12.

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